Tim Ziemer of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance at USAID. Photo by: CDC Global / CC BY

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Tim Ziemer, who leads the U.S. Agency for International Development’s humanitarian assistance, democracy, and conflict efforts, informed the White House on Monday that he plans to resign effective June 5, according to an internal email obtained by Devex.

“It was a very difficult and emotional decision for me, as I have a deep affection and commitment to the mission upon which we are all embarked,” Ziemer wrote to employees of his bureau Tuesday.

Ziemer, a retired Navy admiral, previously led the White House’s National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense, which was tasked with coordinating pandemic preparedness for the U.S. government. Former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s decision to disband that office in 2018 has come under intense scrutiny amid criticism of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the administration of President Donald Trump.

At USAID, Ziemer leads the bureau that includes the agency’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, which is central to the U.S. government’s international response to COVID-19.

In September, then USAID administrator Mark Green announced that Ziemer would serve in an even higher position under the agency’s new organizational structure, overseeing three different bureaus as associate administrator, a new position that Ziemer would have been the first at the agency to hold.

“After 50+ years of service to my country, it’s now time for me to move on to the next phase of my life.”

— Tim Ziemer of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance

The agency has so far mobilized roughly $300 million to deal with the pandemic from its International Disaster Assistance Account, out of $775 million overall. USAID’s role has been complicated, however, by guidelines that reportedly prohibit the agency’s partners from using government funds to purchase personal protective equipment without specific approval, out of supply concerns for the U.S. domestic response.

Prior to serving at NSC, Ziemer led the President’s Malaria Initiative. That effort is currently headed by Kenneth Staley, who has been appointed to lead USAID’s coronavirus task force.

“After 50+ years of service to my country, it’s now time for me to move on to the next phase of my life. It will be difficult for me to be sitting in the bleachers observing your life-saving and significant efforts around the world, but be assured I will be an advocate and voice for all you are doing,” Ziemer wrote in this week’s email.

“It has been the highlight of my life to be among you and to have served alongside all of you in the significant work you do,” he added.

About the author

  • Michael Igoe

    Michael Igoe is a Senior Reporter with Devex, based in Washington, D.C. He covers U.S. foreign aid, global health, climate change, and development finance. Prior to joining Devex, Michael researched water management and climate change adaptation in post-Soviet Central Asia, where he also wrote for EurasiaNet. Michael earned his bachelor's degree from Bowdoin College, where he majored in Russian, and his master’s degree from the University of Montana, where he studied international conservation and development.